ARCADIA, CA – An Equal Amount of Blueberries and Adam Vali’s Queen Bee to You fought gamely in the stretch with Der Lu before narrowly conquering Saturday’s $200,000 La Canada Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 3 under Ruben Fuentes as the 2/1 second choice, Queen Bee to You allowed her inward-breaking foes to speed ahead so that she could angle in before entering the clubhouse turn. The rail-breaking Der Lu hustled up to set the pace, posting fractions of :24.00 and :48.06 before an eager Queen Bee to You snuck up an opening on her inside to challenge for the lead.
Shortly after running the opening 1/2-mile, Queen Bee to You poked her head in front and quickened the tempo. Heading into the far turn, Queen Bee to You held a good advantage, but Der Lu ranged back up along the outside and met her throat latch at the 3/8 pole.
Running noses apart as they straightened out, Der Lu and Queen Bee to You ran stride-for-stride the length of the stretch, neither giving an inch. Queen Bee to You edged forward in the shadow of the wire before getting her nose down first. The Andrew Lerner trainee completed the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track in a final time of 1:44.36.
“I thought my horse was getting rank, but the pace was a little slow and that’s why she was pulling,” Fuentes said. “Thankfully, the rail was open and I took that spot. I realized I was going a little slow, so I said, ‘I’m in the perfect spot.’ Once she made the lead, she relaxed real nice. My plan was to angle outside and put the pressure on the other filly (Der Lu), but we ended up inside and she fought back.”
Outgamed at the finish, Der Lu was 2 lengths clear of Zusha, who made a move for the front at the top of the stretch but faded late, just heading a closing Kaydetre for third. The non-threatening 3/2 favorite Horologist finished fifth ahead of only Message to complete the order of finish.
Starr of Quality and Spiced Perfection were scratched. Trainer Peter Miller said before the race that he is going to send Spiced Perfection to Gulfstream Park to contest the 7-furlong Inside Information Stakes (G2) on Pegasus World Cup Day, January 25.
Queen Bee to You’s win was her third straight over as many different tracks, following the Betty Grable Stakes at Del Mar and Los Alamitos’ Bayakoa Stakes (G3), her first graded victory. The California-bred 6-year-old daughter of Old Topper increased her career earnings to $658,770 to go with a record of 33-8-11-5, including 7-4-0-1 since Lerner took over training in June, 2019.
“She’s just one of those gritty mares that wants to win,” said Lerner, whose only career graded stakes scores have come with Queen Bee to You. “She’s just all heart and you gotta love horses like that. It’s unbelievable, just to saddle next to guys like Bob Baffert, Richard Mandella, and Richie Baltas, guys I’ve looked up to growing up and going to the races. It’s incredible to be in the same paddock with them, but to be standing here in the Winner’s Circle, it means a lot.”
Queen Bee to You returned $6.60 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.60 to show. Der Lu brought back $4.20 to place and $3.60 to show, while Zusha paid $5 to show.